HORACE Lenwood Ellis must have been one of the last doctors to make house calls.
He was still doing it in the early '80s, when most other doctors had settled into their offices and made patients, no matter how ill, struggle to get to them.
But then, Dr. Ellis was into serving people. That was his reason for being, a duty that he carried out with remarkable modesty and humility.
He was the kind of guy who would see a car stuck by the side of the road and pull over to see if he could help.
Ellis, who served the city for 30 years as a doctor at Health District 6, where his knowledge of Spanish helped him with the largely Hispanic clientele, an avid outdoorsman, Navy veteran and devoted family man, died of complications of kidney disease Dec. 23. He was 81 and lived in Wynnefield Heights.
He was a general practitioner who worked at the health center at 3rd Street and Girard Avenue in the mornings, then returned to his office at 57th Street and Larchwood Avenue, in West Philadelphia, to see his patients, whom he never charged more than $15 per visit.
He made daily rounds at Mercy-Douglass Hospital in the evenings. The hospital closed in 1973.
His patients loved him - and not just because he charged bargain rates. He was a master of diagnosis and saved many a patient from complications by giving them early diagnoses of their problems.
"He didn't care how much money you had in your pocket," said his daughter, Staci Ellis-Ihlenfeld. "He was friends with people from all walks of life."
Ellis, a dedicated hunter, was a member of the National Rifle Assocation. He made annual trips out West on hunting excursions, and, in the '70s, took a safari to Zambia, where he shot an elephant. He donated it to a village there.
Ellis was gifted with a powerful singing voice, and, while in medical school, he made a recording of himself singing Jimmy Dorsey's "I'm Glad There Is You."
At the family's request, Maureen Malloy, jazz director of WRTI, played it on the air.
"He was tickled," his daughter said.
Ellis also was into audio equipment, and had his house rigged to hear his music full-blast. He favored jazz and the classics.
He also was a big fan of the late Virgil Fox, a prominent organist. His daughter remembers being with her father as he attended Fox concerts whenever they were held locally.
Although he didn't like to fly, Ellis made a number of trips to visit a friend in St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands, and, of course, to fly to Africa.
Ellis was born in Connecticut, the only child of Ernest Ellis and the former Inez Wooden. He earned a bachelor's degree from Fisk University, in Nashville, and received his medical degree from Howard University in 1955. He helped pay for college by working at a hotel in Atlantic City in the summers.
He took his internship at Queens General Hospital, in New York.
After receiving his medical degree, he served as a lieutenant in the Navy, stationed in Brooklyn, N.Y., working as a doctor.
Ellis was a devoted father who attended every event that his children were involved in - sports, dance, tennis, whatever. He was a tennis player, and he encouraged his children to play the sport.
"He ran a very tight ship," his daughter said, "but he was always involved in our lives."
Ellis had strong feelings about idle young people and the drug problem.
"He was saddened to see young people hanging on the corners near the health center," his daughter said. "He was bitter about young people and drugs."
Besides his daughter, he is survived by two sons, Vance Lenwood Ellis and Stuart Lenwood Ellis, and a grandchild.
Services: Combined viewing and service at 10 a.m. today at the Julian V. Hawkins Funeral Home, 5306 Haverford Ave. Burial will be private.